As an avid history buff and a homeschool mom, I often look at vacation destinations for what we can learn. Many of my dream holidays centre around a historical landmark. Yet “history” doesn’t have to mean traveling to Egypt to see the pyramids or to England to view Stonehenge. There’s plenty of history to discover in your own city or province. Here are my tips on how to add some history to your next holiday.
This post is brought to you by HotelPlanner.com; all opinions expressed are my own.
Do Some Research
Start your vacation by doing some research. Decide whether you’re planning a staycation to explore the history in your own city or if you’re going to get a bit further away. For example, Highlands Ranch is a small town just outside Denver, Colorado, with a unique history. People flooded into this area in the late 19th century for the Colorado Gold Rush. Your family will have fun learning more about this time in history, while you can enjoy the smaller price tag that comes with a small-town vacation.
Choose an Itinerary
Once you’ve chosen your vacation destination and booked your hotel, you can start planning how to add some history to your next holiday. Look up local museums and archives to see what events and programs they offer. You may want to contact the local visitor centre for recommendations. Often, locals are a great source of lore about their town.
Look for historic landmarks and hikes as well. There may be a statue or mural in town that tells about a significant historical figure that you can research further. Some towns offer guided tours of local historic hotspots. There may also be hiking paths that were built on historic trails, such as old railways or wagon paths.
Get Some Books
Look up books — both fiction and nonfiction — about your chosen destination and its history. You can do this before going to build excitement about your destination, or perhaps once you get home, now that the places hold memories for your family.
For example, there are likely tons of books about the Colorado Gold Rush that can help you learn more about Highlands Ranch and the people who would have built the town. If your kids enjoy gold rush history, you could expand your research to include the Klondike and California Gold Rushes as well. You may get more ideas about other vacation spots from your research!
You may also want to include maps and atlases in your research. If you are driving to and from your destination, the kids can follow along on the map (instead of asking “Are we there yet?”). You can also talk about how the geography of the area would have influenced the history. Why did the gold rush happen in Highlands Ranch and not another nearby town?
Record Your Memories
Keep a scrapbook or road trip notebook about what you learn. You could either do this as a family or have each child (depending on their age) work on their own memory book. Add maps, photos, and pamphlets to your book. Your child could also write down their thoughts or ideas about what they’ve seen and learned (or dictate these to you to write).
Have you planned a holiday around a historical landmark or event? What tips would you share?